N2.6 trillion tax rebate approved for telecoms giant, MTN, has been queried by the House of Representatives.
The committee raised the query during the investigative hearing into the audit report of the Auditor-General for the Federation on Wednesday.
Capital allowance rebate refers to tax relief a company gets for buying assets that are used for production.
Oluwole Oke (PDP, Osun), the chairman of the committee, directed the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to produce all the needed documents to back up the rebate.
To approve capital allowance, the ministry must have inspected the assets of the company to determine the rebate, Oke explained.
“So the question we are asking Federal Ministry of Industry is to produce records, evidence that they inspected their assets based on which they issued the certificates, which MTN has taken to FIRS to secure a tax rebate.
“It is expected of the Industry (Federal Ministry of Industry) to have inspected the assets before they issue the certificates. If the Ministry is in default, then we might be thinking of collusion between the beneficiary of the certificate and the Federal Ministry of Industry which will amount to undermining Nigeria; which will amount to loss of revenue.
“And like I’ve said earlier, when you first appeared, we are not witch-hunting any person. We speak to law, we speak to facts, we speak to issues. And that’s why I’m making this clarification. So the angle that concerns MTN is that we are trying to extract evidence from you to justify the certificates that you have been issued because you are the beneficiary and we asked if the assets were indeed inspected?
“We also asked for proof, the dates because you can’t enter MTN premises without records. The assets claimed by MTN can be categorised into two: you have local content and you have the foreign content. We have written Nigeria Customs to give us records of the imports, the assets imported by MTN and proof of duty payment. Because if they (MTN) don’t pay the duty as expected, it also amounts to loss of revenue to the federation.”
Earlier, Anas Galadima, the head of public affairs of MTN, presented a letter from MTN requesting an extension of time.
“We are currently reviewing the content of the letter and require more time. In this regard, we, therefore, request for your kind consideration to revert to the committee on April 21st, with our position,” the letter read in part.
Reacting to the request by MTN, Oke said the committee will grant the request of MTN because fair hearing is a “Constitutional gift”.
“So that is the stage we are and MTN has now written a letter that they should be given more time to compile their record. Fair hearing is a constitutional gift, right. So even though the date you are asking for, April 21st is far in our opinion, honestly for justice, for equity, for fairness, we will accede to your request,” he said.